Disrecognized Space

agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi

The uncertainty principle of social theories of technology: Comparing Social Construction of Technology and Actor-Network Theory

In the wake of Technological Determinism’s fall from grace (at least, “hard” technological determinism (MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1999, p. 3) as a guiding cultural theory two other contrasting theories have gained attention as frameworks for investigating technology in a social context (MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1999, p. 37). The main arguments of these two theories – the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) – will first be discussed in this essay (both theories have been subject to revisions and varying interpretations since their formulations, but discussion will be here limited to the main overarching concepts), before some comparisons and criticisms of them will be addressed. Finally, it will be argued that both theories are valid, but necessarily incomplete, methods of addressing technological discourses. Continue reading

Distributing internet collaboration: The social construction of groups online.

The internet has created a distributed space that has changed the nature of collaboration, disseminating and linking widely dispersed and often temporary groups horizontally rather than hierarchically, and thus providing a powerful new form of organization. This paper will first consider the theoretical basis of collaboration and organization in an internet-enabled environment, including the social shaping of these technologies, and will then consider some examples of how this is applied by organizations such as Anonymous in the context of political activism, and in collaborative information spaces such as Wikipedia. It will be shown that the internet, largely a neutral technology full of possibility, has built an effective new channel for activism online that dramatically expands the collaborative possibilities that existed prior to its invention. Continue reading